Flores, Hugo - Atlantis

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Hugo Flores Productions
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:39:00

While Atlantis is a solo release from Portuguese artist Hugo Flores, not much separates this from his Sonic Pulsar project, except that cohort Carlos Mateus doesn't perform on the album (I would say, actually, this is the precursor to the Sonic Pulsar project). This release is a mix between vocal and instrumental tracks, all based around the guitar playing of Flores. This is where this album excels, as Flores is a fantastic player - he can roll off a flurry of notes with the same degree of sensitivity as a more laidback, emotive phrase. He can play both heavy and light with equal aplomb. But, this isn't just another "guitarist showing off chops" record, as Flores and Mateus have written songs, giving those leads a framework against which to work. There is a consistency in style, so Flores isn't all over the map, trying to find something that fits, only to end up with mishmash mess. So, Flores gets a lot right about this release. And his piano playing isn't something to turn your nose up at either. It's these to elements that make what would be a very average release something a little bit more.

Thematically, Flores' pieces deal with contrasts, using both spacey and earthly settings. In the first track, "Mistaken Gods," a world is created ? in "Train To Infinity" a world (Earth) is destroyed. "Sailing" is about the freedom of the open sea, "Something Calling Me" is about drowning in the sea. This latter piece ties in with "Atlantis," of course, a city that sank beneath the sea. Though other than in broad strokes, I wouldn't call this a concept album.

Stylistically, Flores' music takes many cues from bands like Dream Theater and Queensryche. There's that shimmery, Petrucci-like guitar phrase that opens "Mistaken Gods" (which opens the album). And "Fading Beauty" has a certain heaviness that recalls early Queensryche, though Flores' ferocious guitar playing is something else again. The crystalline instrumental "Birth Of The City" is one of the best tracks here, even if the sound is a little too bright and some of the keyboard passages sound a little shrill. It is a piece that reminds me of Vangelis or Tangerine Dream? It is a little dry and cold, however. Dry synth tones serve as flutes in this piece of electronica. "The System" is another interesting instrumental that includes some eerie, ghostly voices floating in the background.

The negatives here are that the overall sound is a little bright and brash - perhaps because everything but guitar, piano, bass and vocals are synthesized, including the sax that features on "Sailing," so one gets a very cold sound. But what also characterizes this release is the odd placement of additional instruments and samples, mainly on the first few tracks, but also a bubbling synth effect on "Atlantis" is very strangely placed - it's as if you're listening to some other audio source. The effect is short-lived, however. Plus, there is far too much separation between instruments. In "Sailing" for example, the sax sample (which alone sounds quite nice) seems too loud in the mix compared to the programmed drums and bass. Things are a bit better balanced on "Fading Beauty," (and tracks that follow) though not perfect, as some things feel a little close together. And "Train To Infinity" is a little busy, a little too hurried, making the arrangement seem a chaotic.

And Flores isn't the strongest of vocalists. And though he sings with an accent, this isn't why. His tone is a bit like James Hetfield at times, mainly on the first track "Mistaken Gods," and later on the short piano and vocal piece "Something Calling Me" (a hightlight of the album) he sounds a bit like James LaBrie.

Overall, this is a good release. It sounds "snobbish" to say, but with a real drummer and bassist, I'm sure the results would be much warmer, and would bring a lot more in the arrangements. But, the bottom line is, it's not awful, just strangely mixed. And if you are looking to hear some really good guitar rock with a prog metal feel, then check out Flores.

Distributed by Fossil Records

Mistaken Gods (5:19) / Peaceful Mind (3:44) / Sailing (7:05) / Fading Beauty (8:05) / Birth Of A City (4:26) / Something Calling Me (2:51) / Where The Wind Goes (3:52) / The System (4:17) / Train To Infinity (5:59) / Believe (4:54) / Atlantis (5:09)

Hugo Flores - guitars, vocals, piano, bass, and drum programming

Atlantis (2000)
Sonic Pulsar - Playing The Universe (2002)
Sonic Pulsar - Out Of Place (2005)
Project Creation - Floating World (2005)
Project Creation - Dawn On Pyther (2007)
Factory Of Dreams - Poles (2008)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin PT

Added: October 5th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.hugoflores.com
Hits: 734
Language: english


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